As a phase of life, childhood is associated with constant value-laden negotiations. Questions concerning children’s best interests and criteria for a good childhood, such as children’s health, moral education or media consumption are constantly debated. Equally challenged are the social institutions and structures framing contemporary childhoods, such as welfare services and education. At a time of growing economic and societal uncertainty it is increasingly important to discuss the value of childhood:
Are children perceived merely in terms of investments, savings and expenses, or does childhood hold an intrinsic value in today’s societies? What is the role of childhood studies in the heated political debates concerning children and childhood, and within the academia? What kind of knowledge about children and childhood do researchers produce and what would be needed from childhood studies?
By offering a multidisciplinary forum for researchers across disciplinary boundaries, the conference aims at opening up diverse approaches to the values of childhood and childhood studies. The main theme of the conference is divided in three dimensions:
1) The value-base of childhood studies. This dimension involves the value-laden methodological, ethical and practical choices that researchers working with themes related to children and childhood face in their every-day work. In addition, a critical look will be directed at the field of childhood studies within academia and in society. What kind of knowledge and ideas about children do childhood studies produce? Are certain disciplinary fields or methods valued higher than others? What are the possibilities to multidisciplinary cooperation between different disciplines involved in the study of children and childhood?
2) Children’s values. This dimension includes questions concerning children’s world views and moral education. How can children’s values and views be studied, and what kinds of challenges are involved in grasping children’s perspectives?
3) Values of childhood. The third dimension refers to the constantly changing cultural and social values of childhood in contemporary societies, in the past and in the future: What has been the meaning of childhood? How have the positions of children changed over time? What about the values of childhood? How have they changed? With the notion of values the conference also wishes to evoke consideration over the social, economic, regional, ethnic and health-related equality in the context of childhood. Particular attention will be directed at questions concerning regional differences and Northern childhoods.
The main theme of the conference will generate diverse viewpoints, approaches and openings to the history, present state and future of childhood, hosting fields from linguistics to economics, and from social sciences to behavioral disciplines.